Certified Arborists vs. Tree Trimmers

While some homeowners trim their own palms, most area property owners use landscape or tree services to perform this task. I discussed some palm pruning issues with Jim Mueller, one of the few Certified Arborists in Indian River County, to get the perspectives of a true professional.

Landscape professionals exist to meet the needs of their customers. According to Mr. Mueller, the main reasons his customers want their palms trimmed are to discourage the animal life that lives in the trees and boots; secondly, to remove to remove the flower stalks that attract bees and wasps, and third, to avoid the falling fruit that may stain driveways, sidewalks, and pool areas.

If a property owner needs assistance with palm trimming, they should consult with a professional who knows the distinctions between different kinds of palms and knows their proper care. For example, Cabbage palms can be trimmed and left with a full head of green foliage with the seed stalks being removed by cutting them out from under the fronds. This style of pruning requires more labor and is therefore more expensive. However, it will result in a more natural appearance and a healthier palm that will require less fertilizer and pesticide applications.

For some people, the major factor in choosing a landscape service is the immediate price. If they go for the cheapest pruning job, they will pay a higher price down the road with reduced health of their palms and impacts to the environment. An informed customer will choose a knowledgeable professional that will leave healthy and aesthetically pleasing palms. The careful judicious removal of dead fronds, loose boots, flower stalks and seed heads can be done so that it appears that no pruning has actually taken place. And, increasing your tolerance of naturally occurring wildlife and proper plant placement will reduce the need for excessive palm pruning.

Palm trees have been around for millions of years. They have survived droughts, fire, and floods. Their berries are important wildlife food. Protect these trees for the beauty of your Florida Yard and watchable wildlife that can live there.

-Excerpt reprinted by permission from Daniel F. Culbert, Okeechobee County Extension Director, Former Indian River Co. Extension Director